The Washington Redskins remained defiant after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations for its name in a landmark ruling on Wednesday.
"We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s divided ruling will be overturned on appeal," team trademark attorney Bob Raskopf wrote in a statement posted at Redskins.com on Wednesday. "This case is no different than an earlier case, where the Board cancelled the Redskins’ trademark registrations, and where a federal district court disagreed and reversed the Board."
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In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Patent Office ruled that the team's nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and therefore in violation of federal trademark laws banning offensive or disparaging language. Five Native Americans petitioned for the trademarks to be cancelled.
“We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board wrote in its opinion Wednesday.
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The ruling was praised by leaders of the Change the Mascot campaign and the National Congress of American Indians.
“The U.S. Patent Office has now restated the obvious truth that Native Americans, civil rights leaders, athletes, religious groups, state legislative bodies, Members of Congress and the president have all echoed: taxpayer resources cannot be used to help private companies profit off the promotion of dictionary defined racial slurs,” Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and NCAI Executive Director Jackie Pata said in a joint statement released on Wednesday. “If the most basic sense of morality, decency and civility has not yet convinced the Washington team and the NFL to stop using this hateful slur, then hopefully today’s patent ruling will, if only because it imperils the ability of the team’s billionaire owner to keep profiting off the denigration and dehumanization of Native Americans.”
As noted by Darren Rovell of ESPN, the ruling does not force team owner Dan Snyder or the NFL to change the team's name. The team's trademarks will also remain protected during the appeal that Raskopf indicated is coming.
While Raskopf sounded confident that the team will overturn this decision on appeal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Wednesday that change is coming, whether Snyder wants it or not.
"Daniel Snyder may be the last person in the world to realize this, but it's just a matter of time until he is forced to do the right thing and change the name," Reid said.
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